The common cuckoo. / PETER JONES

The wonders of May

May is the month of the great homecoming, when many birds that left to spend the winter in Africa come back

PETER JONES

May is a great month to see many of our resident and summer visitors; they will be in full breeding mode and those often-elusive smaller birds will be more visible, as the males sing the proclamation of territories. Others will have already begun the cycle of procreation and some of our resident birds, such as black wheatear, blackbird and others, will be feeding young. Our white stork will be attracting our attention as they pass backwards and forwards with food for their newly hatched youngsters; what a magnificent sight they make as they glide across the skyline of urban areas.

Up here in my mountains, the large and obvious griffon vultures are also bringing food to their young and allow some very close encounters with these colossuses of the skies; while the more elusive Bonelli's eagle can be viewed more easily as they attend to their young. A number of resident smaller birds started the breeding cycle earlier and are already fledging their first broods. May is also a time when many elusive and skulking small birds can be more easily seen as males take to exposed perches to sing a song of attraction, not just for females, but also a declaration of territory and a warning to other males. It really is a great time to go birding!

For those who love their wildflowers I recommend a visit up to the mountains of the Serranía de Ronda; the higher altitude makes for a later flowering time and May is producing a wonderful display of colour.